It was snowing. Most of the flurried wind swept past their jackets while random bits of it hung on, taking shelter from the cold. Some did not have lady luck glancing on them and were picked up and packed into the snowballs that were flying back and forth on the lawn.
"It's getting colder!" yelled Aoko over the howling wind.
"But the sun's still out! No need to go in yet!"
He was pelted in the face by a snowball for that response.
The numbing cold spread over his nose, "Nebermine!"
Aoko smirked and walked over the snowy battlefield of her yard where they had been doing battle for the past few hours. With each step her boot sunk deeper into the ground.
"It hasn't packed up well Kaito----h!!!"
She fell over and sputtered the snow out of her mouth. Ignoring Kaito's laughing; she tried to sit up only to find herself sinking more.
"Here let me help you."
He came around, jumped a bit to steady his place in the snow, and took hold of her hands. He pulled and Aoko began to come off the ground. Then suddenly the snow slipped under her boot and she began falling back, Kaito along with her.
He was looking down and lying on something not so cold although a bit damp. He jumped off in horror as he realized it was Aoko and landed beside her.
"Sorry Aoko," he said flushed, "How do you reckon we're going to get up now?"
"I don't know," she groaned looking up at the sky.
They lay side by side in the snow as it kept falling on top of them in silence.
"You didn't have to move you know… We've been dating for a year."
Kaito glanced over at her quickly but Aoko kept looking up into the cloudy sky. He gulped audibly against his will.
"D-Do you want me to get back on?"
"No… you'll only make the snow melt."
"Though maybe once we're inside that wouldn't be so bad."
Kaito grinned and looked up at the sky for a few moments.
"I've got an idea."
Aoko watched as Kaito rolled side to side, turning little by little. She continued in further amazement as he began to roll toward the stairs to the backdoor.
"Come – oof – on – uah – Aoko!"
"There has to be another way to get up!"
And there was. Eventually, slowly, five minutes later Aoko had made it to the stairs and sat next to Kaito who had watched her.
She looked over at him and smiled, "See it wasn't that hard."
"Sure it wasn't."
She leaned on his shoulder even though the jacket was damp there.
"Yeah Aoko?" he replied nervously.
"Um… do you think we'll always be together? I'm kind of inclined to think no, you know how it is between my Mom and Dad, and how more and more people aren't getting married these days. Not to mention people not having kids either-"
Kaito stopped her rushed words with a soft but hard, "Aoko."
"We'll be together, come on. We've been best friends since we were kids. I don't see us going wrong."
"But what if-"
"Heh, okay. How about this then? If for some ungodly reason we stop being together, how about we have one date, five years after and see how it goes from there."
"Yeah, we'll meet at the Culture Club. That one has a pretty nice atmosphere."
"I don't ever want to go there."
"Then you won't," smiled Kaito and kissed her.
I'm so glad you came,
I'm so glad you remembered,
To see how we're ending our last dance together,
Expectant, too punctual, but prettier than ever,
I really believed that this time it's forever,
Kaito sat on a chair at the bar. He moved his glass back and forth causing the ice to sing inside the glass. His jacket was hung over the miniature backrest, drying out in the smoke-filled heat. It wasn't a pretty night outside. But he hoped there was the possibility of it being a good one indoors…
He gulped down the rest of his glass and signaled to the barman for another. The music was pounding in his ears and would be the cause of a terrible headache that he would pay for in the morning.
He would wait all night if he had to, although he realized that sentiment would probably amount to very little. The only reason he was here tonight was because he had been the one who had mentioned it.
They had split a year after that winter. In the spring his night job came back, what with all the new jewels being brought to Japan for exhibitions and festivals. Ironically, it had not been his alter ego that had ruined everything.
It was the sad fact that he had lied over it many times before. When asked over whether he had any idea of whom in the magical community may be the infamous thief, or whether he himself was Kid.
His denials had caused the split in their trust. And soon there wasn't an evening they weren't arguing. Never mind the night he had found out she went to Hakuba's and had stayed overnight. Never mind that she denied anything had happened, after all Hakuba's grimace had been telling enough that something was being hidden. But he could have forgiven that quickly, whatever secret it was, if it hadn't been for all the arguing and fighting.
Picking up his new drink he brought it to his lips and began to gulp it away.
Only his rigorous training of poker face stopped him from spitting his drink so he could breathe.
But older than me now,
More constant, more real,
And the fur and the mouth and the innocence turned
To hair and contentment that hangs in a basement,
A woman now standing where once there was only a girl…
Aoko dearly wished that she had left on her jacket until she had found somewhere to sit. Slowly, she made her way to the bar, around the scattered tables around the busy dance floor. There was no one she recognized at a glance.
She stopped in her tracks. He had seen her first, knowing it because she felt his piercing gaze before looking in his direction.
With his eyes, even with her being across the room, he could take apart her appearance. The click of her blue heels on the tile was audible only to him. The calves of her legs were just visible from the hem of her blue dress. The seam around her waist continued down into a pattern that swirled around her skirt, giving the impression that it was always moving around her. The dress fitted her torso beautifully and continued moving up until it stopped, suspended by itself. There was no jewelry around her neck, though a dazzling pair of silver dangling earrings hung from her ears. Her lips were painted perfectly, a dazzling pink. The skin on her face was smooth and clear, her blushed cheeks accenting the more adult shape of her face. Five years, aside from making her look older, had done little to her eyes, still larger than ever, their blue as clear and as tantalizing as when he had last looked into them to kiss her. Her hair was pulled up into a loose bun. Her bangs, still messy, hung around her face.
She was gorgeous. Stunning. He could go on forever. Literally.
But for now he would have to slide off his bar stool and walk over to her.
"Nakamori-san. If I could take your jacket please."
Aoko immediately was taken aback but robotically handed over her jacket. She followed him to where he had been sitting at the bar. He placed the jacket over the short backrest of the seat beside his and moved aside so she could slide on.
"Kuroba-kun, it is good to see you are well."
The barman placed a rum and coke in front of Aoko and left without a word.
"He's bet that you wouldn't show, so our drinks are on the house," Kaito explained trying to hold back a grin at Aoko's surprise.
"What did you tell him?"
Kaito watched as Aoko placed her lips on the glass to take a sip and took her glance towards him as the signal to start talking, "Oh well, you know just the usual broken heart sob story he must hear at least twice a week.
"He thought it was funny that we would keep a promise that should mean virtually nothing to us now."
He murmured an agreement and took a drink from his own glass.
Moments of silence passed and he turned to look at her quickly.
"Do you want to dance?" asked Aoko before he could get a word out.
"Do you want to dance?"
"Yeah, I guess I do," he said somewhat timidly.
Suddenly though, concentrating on the music for the first time all evening, a new surge of confidence burst forth as he slid off his stool. Stepping over to her, he gripped her waist as she slid down from hers and continued gripping it as he walked her over to the dance floor as if it had been his idea in the first place.
He whirled her around and then kept her close to him as they danced.
She was his tonight. No one was going to cut in or even think of it. Her eyes would only be able to look into his and if she still loved him, there would be little resistance for at least one kiss.
"Kaito," Aoko whispered into his ear during a slower number.
"What? I'm not Kuroba-kun anymore?"
"You started that!"
She could feel him chuckle under her, "Okay, Aoko. You win that one. You were saying?"
"How long are we going to be?"
Kaito immediately let go of her but within arm's length looked at her accusingly, "Why? Got another date after this? Thought it'd just be 'hello, oh good you're doing well, well good-bye'?"
"I didn't say that. And what do you think? We're going to magically get back together after tonight!?"
"No. Not magically," Kaito took that half-step and closed the distance between them and held her tightly in his arms, "But tonight, at least, you're mine. All mine. And no one, not even you, is going to take that away from me."
Aoko looked up at him. There was no sign of a maniac who could have easily said those words.
She sighed and leaned her head on his shoulder, looking away from him, keeping as stiff as possible.
After a few more dances they went back to the bar for more to drink. They ordered different drinks and waited.
Aoko took a stab at a subject to talk about and picked work. It wasn't as if she didn't know, but at least it was safe.
"Well aside from the night job," began Kaito, "I've been doing freelance work for a lot of companies. Most of them are toy related. Some animatronics work. Tropical Land is always looking for those bright young people unafraid of being mauled by their creations."
Aoko laughed aloud, splashing some of her margarita on the counter.
"What about you Aoko? What have you been doing?"
"I've been having a bit of a hard time actually."
"What? What happened to joining the MPD?"
"No. I couldn't do that. That's working too much off what my Dad's done, no matter how capable they contended I was.
"Really it's too late to go to college, it gets more and more competitive every year, so I've been taking a lot of different temp jobs. Right now I'm working at a bank. It's not as if the pay isn't good, it's just not as steady as I'd like."
"So you're living at home?"
"Yeah. It's not odd for women these days. Most of my friends don't live alone. But they like to go out almost every night."
"What you don't like going out? To this?"
He gestured around the room.
"Heh, no. It's not my kind of thing. What about you have you been living at home?"
"Yeah, sometimes it's hard on Mom because I come and go a lot but she knows what its like. She's glad knowing that she doesn't have to work."
"What? So she gave up her job at the-"
"No. No. She just likes knowing she can quit at any time. You know how she is…"
They laughed together. Kaito's mother was funny like that.
I'm so glad that you came,
I'm so glad you remembered,
To see how we're ending our last dance together,
Reluctantly, cautiously, but prettier than ever,
I really believed that this time it's forever…
The drinks kept coming and the couple kept dancing.
Aoko was having fun. It didn't matter now at all how much they had been fighting for those months or what it had been over.
But I can't have too much fun…
Otherwise she really would fall in love with him all over again.
It was like standing at a precipice, with the option of staying and dropping having equal pull on her. She had to will herself to stay where she was.
She kept drinking from her glass to relax a bit. She had come in tense and getting along with Kaito so much was scaring her a bit.
Since when had he been so foreign to me…?
Since when couldn't I just be with him…?
Of course she knew the answer.
Kaito felt Aoko shift against him. They were dancing; a slow one had come up. She was breathing into his neck. From his vantage point he could only look down onto her neckline. Well in reality the "only" was insulting because Aoko's was very fine. Delicate.
He had very fond memories of what he had done to her neckline and how she had loved every second of it.
But that was old news now. This was a slightly different Aoko. He had realized it the minute he spotted her.
But that didn't mean there wasn't a chance still. He was trying. He had missed her so much. So, so, much. It was killing him having her in front of him, unable to kiss her or even just tell her how much he was dying without being able to kick the bucket.
"Aoko," he started.
She looked up at him, still swaying with him.
"I just want to know if you had dated anyone since we broke up."
She looked down, away, trying to hide from his piercing stare. It surprised him when she looked up at him and replied, "I think the asker should confess first," with just a tinge of a smile playing on her lips.
He knew she knew the answer but wanted to hear it from him.
"There is nothing on this earth that could ever allow me to forget you. To say that you have been on my mind since the day we parted would be an understatement. You knew this the moment you saw me today."
Aoko was looking down.
"Any betrayal of that by you would always be forgiven."
Before he realized it Aoko was off the dance floor. She was feet ahead of him but keeping that way. He got to their spot at the bar in time to watch her down her sixth glass of rum and coke in a gulp while grabbing her coat and jacket.
The barman turned away from the scene.
"Aoko, what are you doing?"
"I'm leaving. It was a lovely date but I must be leaving."
She was walking away.
Kaito was being ripped in two. Part of him was screaming go after her and the other was gluing his feet to the ground with the strongest glue on the market.
"Hey! A date isn't over until you walk the lady to her door."
Kaito looked over at the barman, realizing the man had been speaking.
"Well… get going!"
The words lit a fuse inside Kaito like a rocket. He sped off like lightning.
But Christmas falls late now,
Flatter and colder,
And never as bright as when we used to fall
And even if we drink, I don't think we would kiss,
In the way that we did,
When the woman was only a girl…
Outside the snow was falling thickly. His footsteps sloshed in the snow on the concrete.
"Leave me alone Kaito," said Aoko half-heartedly as he caught up a foot behind her.
"The date isn't over."
"I think it is," replied Aoko, keeping forward.
"It's not until I leave you at your door."
"Will you leave me alone after?"
"I don't know, usually the first date gives the askee the right to call again for a second or third date."
Aoko stopped and whirled around at him.
"Don't pretend to be stupid!"
Her face was red, partly from the wind and partly from the tears running down her face.
"Put on your coat or you're going to get sick."
He half hated saying the words himself. The sight of her in the middle of a snowy Tokyo sidewalk with that dress made her an even bigger bombshell than she had been earlier.
He hated it completely that she was half frozen by his words, forcing him to take her purse from her to get the coat on her.
"Don't make me think you care that much," said Aoko finally.
She continued walking.
He followed her until he decided to hail a taxi. It was still a long way home from the couple of blocks they had trekked through.
They sat in silence until the taxi stopped. Kaito paid as Aoko opened the gate to her door.
The taxi drove off just as Aoko was reaching her door. He ran to get to her, before she opened the door and went in without another word to him for the rest of his life.
"Aoko, don't… not yet."
She turned to look at him.
He was standing on her unlit porch. The blue of his eyes shined like mercury. His hair was messier than she believed possible. The collar of his shirt was undone; his tie loose.
All those flaws put together in one man made him irresistible.
Even more so when mostly drunk.
He walked closer to her.
"Don't you have a question for me?"
He might have heard her bag drop from her hand in that moment. He couldn't recall for sure later.
Tears began to fall heavily from Aoko's eyes.
"Wa-wait Aoko. Do-don't cry."
He pulled out a handkerchief and sloppily wiped her face, holding it still with his hand at her chin. A light push up on it force her to look up at him.
"Don't you have a question?" he asked again, more forceful than he would have liked. It seemed as if the alcohol combined with the stress had gotten to him too. He felt himself shaking slightly.
Aoko stopped crying at once.
"Yes. I have a question. Why didn't you ever believe me?"
"Why didn't you believe me?" she asked determinedly.
"For months I heard you go on about how you couldn't be Kid. But you were lying all along. When had I ever lied to you?! So why didn't you believe me when I told you I didn't sleep with Hakuba!! And the fighting was always over stupid things. Things we never had even dreamed of fighting about before. We were just picking on each other trying to bring the other down – So why couldn't you not fight when it was important?!!"
Kaito looked at her flabbergasted.
"What, nothing to say!? Mister I've-Always-Got-My-Foot-In-My-Mouth has nothing to say!! Well I've got something you stupid moron! You weren't the only one who regretted everyday of the past five-"
Her words were pulled from her before she knew what was happening. Once she had realized what was, she wasn't going to pull away from his grasp.
His arm was wrapped around her waist, pulling her up to him. There was no bending over, she didn't have her feet on the ground, she couldn't feel which way was up from down. She was his for those precious moments in time.
She was all his, only his, for him – just as he was all hers, only hers and for her.
But then he felt a protest on his shoulder and they broke apart. He let her down.
She was crying.
"It's just not the same Kaito. We can't do this five years later, and call it all water under the bridge to forget."
Kaito looked at her apologetically; the alcohol had done it he would tell himself later.
"Yeah...Maybe five years was too long."
They stared at each other in silence. The moon came out from behind the clouds, the stars shone brightly.
Mocking stars, don't expect me to wish on you again…
"Good night Aoko."
And he turned away from her and walked out into the night.
AN: Well I was honestly up in the air about this being angst or happily ever after. As you've seen, angst won by a landslide. The Kaito and Aoko puppets aren't too happy with me right now for this so I'm just going to put them away for awhile… write with the other neglected puppets. I hope you enjoyed it (as much as you can enjoy a sad story) and you review.